Lower Body Fat, and Diet Strategies for the Menopausal Years
I get women who tell me all the time, that they struggle with lower body fat, belly fat and weight gain in general, now that they have hit the menopausal years.
Lower body fat can be tough, for years I suffered with that. Every time I would lose weight it would always come off my upper body, leaving me looking like a bigger pear shape.
I just wanted slimmer thigh’s, I did not want to lose more upper body fat.
I felt like I was doing everything correctly, running long distance, lifting weights and eating right. I found it so frustrating and figured I would just have to live with it.
But I still wondered what the heck was going on? And how could I change this around? No one seemed to have a clue.
Then I started reading that women can carry more lower body fat manly because of estrogens influence….we usually carry more body weight in our hips butt and thighs because of estrogen.
All my friends said just keep running, don’t worry about your hormones. You need to just run an extra day, or longer long runs, to burn more calories.
I was getting tired, and getting older, how much more could I do? I loved running and racing, but I was getting injured more often, and not sleeping well. I had a couple of running friends that did far less training than I did, and they did less strength training workouts as well. They were slimmer than I was, and sleeping good too.
I started following a friends advice, and just buckled down harder, and kept my diet really clean, and added an extra day of running, which added an extra 5 miles of running to my week.
I was 59 at this time, and I felt depressed and tired from adding the extra day of running, to my already jammed packed week. Between lifting weight’s, and running I was exercising 6 days a week, and walking 2x a day, and working.
All the exercising was getting really mentally draining, causing sleep issues, and making me in a bad mood. I started to feel old injuries flaring up, and knew I needed to back off or I would be hurt yet again, and sitting on the sidelines. Which made me scared as I did not want to be hurt as I feared I would gain weight.
I was very paranoid at that time of gaining weight, since I had been really fat until I was 40, and felt like if I stopped exercising I would gain it all back and more.
Finally my best girlfriend who did not do as much running, and exercise as me, but walked a lot, said why don’t you just cut back on running and see if you feel better. She did not want to see me injured again.
I was skeptical, but after reading a couple of really good books on doing less, and feeling really ready for a change, as I would be 60 soon, I wanted to feel good again and not be hurt. So I thought why not give the strategies I was reading about a try, and since my girlfriend looked awesome and felt good, doing half of what I was doing, I would try and see what happened.
The Strategies I started doing at 59 soon to be 60, that finally got me results, and how I was totally surprised by it all.
I was brain washed, and believed doing more was the only way. “The more cardio, the better” it was also the NO fat craze, for a long time.
I still find eating fat, really hard for me mentally, to believe it really works. I think women of my generation, were told no fat, and low fat for so long we really fear fat, or I did, and I’m still careful about how much I eat.
I do think that some people do better on higher fat diets, and some do better on lower fat diets, or moderate fat. I think the only way to find out is to experiment and see exactly how much fat makes you feel good, and you still get the results you are looking for.
This is exactly what I did, that I started seeing a 1 pound fat loss a week, and from the lower body as well as the upper body. I took measurements every week
- I stopped all Long distance Running and instead did, in a fasted state.
- 3x a week short 20 minutes of flat sprints, or hill sprints outside, you can use a treadmill as well.
- 20-35 seconds hard and walk back to the start and repeat 8 x.
- 3 days of strength training circuits, or cardio based weight training , for 20 minutes
- Walked slowly after all workouts, 2 x a day. I had a dog too, so one walk was hers or both 🙂
Once and awhile, or in the winter, because here in Boston we get snow and ice… I would do TABATA style sprint workout
- 15-20 minutes tops
- 8 rounds x 20 seconds hard, followed by 10 seconds of rest, here are some (examples) below
- 20 seconds of jump squats, with 10 seconds rest
- 20 seconds high knees, with 10 seconds rest
- 20 seconds of mountain climbers, with 10 seconds rest
- 20 seconds of switch jumps, or jumping jacks with 10 seconds rest.
Boom! You are finished….Those are tough, I would rather sprint outside.
I walk slowly for 60 minutes on all days, right after the workouts, to burn up all the fat that was released, and lower my cortisol.
I was used to walking, and so I walked 2 x a day for one hour.
As much walking as you can do I have found really works. I know its hard to believe, but during my sports nutrition course, we were taught the difference between movement, and exercise, and walking is movement our bodies were meant to move. Our ancestors moved all day and did an average of 10-12 miles of movement (walking a day)
Walking, gardening, dancing, playing with the grandkids, pets, etc…
I walked, I think that was key, and remember, for me this was a HUGE cut back in time doing exercise, to less than half of what I was doing, and by body perceived this as much less stress.
I started sleeping better ( which is huge for Fat Loss ) and at menopausal age, high stress more belly fat, stubborn weight.
Not sleeping causes a spiral, of also craving salty sugary foods the next day, and being cranky and tired.
I believe my thyroid started working better, with short intense exercise, and not long drawn out cardio for me, at my age, worked way better. Because the thyroid and adrenals work together and I was stressing out my adrenals to much.
I have not been injured, yah! My foot doctor is still amazed.
Diet is at least 80-90% it counts more than exercise, as you can’t out exercise a poor diet, I found that out the hard way.
I was doing 25-50 grams of Starchy Carbs per day, I did not count my total carbs per day, I ate as much fibrous veggie carbs a day as I wanted, big mixed greens salads at lunch, or breakfast, with protein and the fibrous veggies for dinner too.
I did most of my Starch carbs post workout, and I still slept good. If sleep was an issue, or if I felt it was. Then some nights I would have a small sweet potato at dinner or butternut squash.
But I felt then what worked for me was having my starch post workout, but just the right amount for me to get me results, and still feel good.
I would do 1/2-2/3 cup of starch post workout, on the weight training days could be 1/2 cup of pumpkin, or some banana, or cherries, or just berries, or 1/2 cup serving of sweet potato
On the sprint days I would have berries, 1/2-2/3 cup post workout, I would wake up feeling no bloat, and good and lean.
Supplements I used before my Fasted workouts:
- Coffee Black
- 1000 mg L-Tyrosine (empty stomach only before exercise)
- 500 mg L – Carnitine
* Supplements are just that, they only supplement an optimal diet, and may not work for everyone.
Now I do ECGC by Now Brand ( green Tea extract)
That worked perfectly for me when I was 60, for exercise and finally getting slim legs.
I have had to adjust over the years, and now only do 1-2 sprint days, and 3 weight training days, but still walk daily as much as possible.* My exercise changes all the time according to have I feel.
There are different ways to do sprints, some people don’t run, you can do them on a bike, or elliptical, stair climber.
I find if you are having stubborn fat loss at menopause, cutting the sugar, and finding the right amount of starch for you, and timing is key, and lowering your Stress level.
Maybe even taking a few days off, or a week off, your body may respond really well to that.
Change it around, and surprise your body, if you normally eat starch at night, experiment with having it just post workout, if your workouts are in the AM.
Maybe you have all your starch in the morning post workout, then trying having it all at night before bed, if you find it makes you sleep better.
Some might do well having a small amount of starchy carbs at 3 meals a day, experiment and see what your body likes.
You can change the timing and the amounts. I Like having my starch now post workout, in the morning, of just 2/3 cup berries, and sweet potato at night on workout days, and on off days just berries.
Try having a few less bites, or even more bites to see, what is just right for you.
If you surprise your body, even if you are like me and think your diet is optimal, maybe a tiny tweak or switch is all you need to get the ball rolling in the fat loss direction again.
For the lower body, a lower carb diet, may produce the best results, but what is low carb? For you it could be different, than what is low carb for me.
- Most of my carbs come from fibrous vegetables, leafy greens, and low sweet fruits, like berries, apples. ( never count fibrous veggies and greens)
- Starchy Carbohydrates were 50-70 grams a day.
- Examples a 1/2 banana post work, or 1/2 cup of pumpkin, or 2/3 cups berries in my smoothie, and workout days a small sweet potato at dinner.
- I like to slice bananas and keep them in the freezer and just pop out what I want to eat. Sometimes I mix with berries I might do 5 slices….Frozen banana, makes a nice creamy shake.
Keep, changing it up and surprising the body, if you exercise like a demon now, try doing less for a couple of weeks and let me know how you do.
Remember we all like our wine. But I find I’m more bloated now the next day even with one glass, and also feel tired. Plus having the sugar from the wine then sometimes makes me crave sugary things for a few days afterwards too.
Some women having wine can really stop their fat loss, your body will just use that for fuel.
Hope this helps, any questions for me, just ask me on my Facebook page or message me. I really love to help.
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